When you think bad guys, you imagine of the more memorable ones of recent. Thanos, Darth Vader, The Joker. All of them had a motive and a way to execute it, and in some respects, you could see it from their point of view... or maybe that's me on my path to evil? Who knows. Anyway, these film moguls stand out for their actions and the reasons, but the rules aren't the same for fantasy. Often, fantasy villains will want to rule/destroy the world simply because they can. They're just inherently evil. It's in their genes, bones and everything about them. Roll For Adventure is a fantasy cooperative, dice allocation game for 2-4 players where you're taking on the Master Of Shadows, a being with no reason but a lot of minions and a motive. The destruction of the world.
Roll For Adventure is a played by players in turn order. Their objective is to collect a number of Power Stones, variable based on the chosen difficulty of the game. This is done by allocating dice to locations on the map, with dice being returned once the objective is completed.
To begin a game, players take player boards and a specific set of dice in one colour. If there are less than four players, players gain one or two extra dice from the spare set as Ally Dice - this is to give players an edge when outnumbered. They then choose a difficulty based on the number of Power Stonesthey need to collect to win. More Stones, more difficulty. Next, players create the enemy deck. They split it into three stacks and add the Master of Shadows to the middle stack. They then shuffle them individually and combine the decks to make one deck. Finally, the board is constructed and location health markers and objective tokens placed as instructed.
Taking A Turn
Throughout Roll for Adventure, players take turns rolling their available dice, allocating one and then rolling the dice again. They repeat this until they have used all their dice. Players allocated dice to locations on the map based on their results and work towards a specific objective. Players allocate sets of matching results where possible or allocate one die. Each of the four locations have specific uses, but only three give players the opportunity to gain Power Stones. What's more is that dice are only returned when the objective is finished, meaning players may have less dice as many may be allocated to spots on the board.
Once all dice are allocated, the active player draws one enemy and places it face-up onto the deck. Any enemies with a lower rank than the newly drawn card activate and attack the location they're at. When enemies activate, they remove a die (or set of dice in some cases) from that location. These are lost to the Vortex of Oblivion (centre of the board) until regained through a number of means. If they can't remove any dice, they attack the land and reduce the overall health of the location. Then the enemy drawn gets added to their respective location and attacks.
Players can choose to attack enemies currently at locations on the board. To do this, they allocate dice to the enemy's card. Any result can be allocated here but only when the total is equal to or greater than six is the enemy defeated. Not choosing to attack enemies risks them attacking on the next turn, but attacking means there are less dice to use on objectives. When the Master of Shadows appears, all enemies attack. Then, they roll the territory die island damage the result and he gets shuffled back into the deck. Players win once they have acquired the number of Power Stones needed. However, should all players have no dice to place, or any location had zero health left, they lose!
Roll for Adventure is a game with both a scalable difficulty and variant play. The boards are also double-sided to A and B sides. There are several types of enemies that are optional and can be incorporated into the enemy deck to increase the challenge. These enhance the experience to some degree but boast a tonne of new difficulties. There are also some blank cards for players to create their own rulesets and variants.
How It Handles
Roll for Adventure is a game that we really enjoyed. It's fast and punchy, but still requires a fair amount of planning and a tremendous amount of cooperation. There's no room for divide and conquer, or going rogue. You've got to work together to collect the Power Stones and stop the Master of Shadows' plans. Otherwise, you've got a guaranteed loss on your hands!
Travel to Distant Lands...
The map of Roll for Adventure is clearly split into four regions: forest, ice cave, fortress and desert. These all have specific dice needs and ways to gain Power Stones. The forest requires fives and sixes. Once players acquire a stone from there, the barrier moves meaning more dice are needed next time. It's the easiest one to complete, but also the easiest one to lose dice to! You spend ages ploughing dice into it, only to be short one at the end with no returns...
The fortress requires four results of two, three and four in respective areas. Once any zone has the dice it needs, the barrier for that one is removed. Only once all three barriers are removed do players get their prize... then the barriers return again! Finally, the desert needs three ones. One of those ones goes into a new column, also needing three ones. And once those are done, one is sacrificed to the desert in exchange for the stone. The desert is the easiest to master and do casually, but also the most costly...
The only one that has no Power Stones is the ice cave. However, it's not a lost cause by any measure. Oh no! If anything, it's potentially the most useful region to allocate dice to! It works differently to the others as there isn't a specific trigger time. You allocate dice there to gain unique benefits. Four for an extra dice to everyone who contributed, five to defeat an enemy and get the dice, and six to remove any damage from a region AND the prior benefits. It's pretty awesome, but it's a weighty investment. It requires six unique results, all of which may be better-spent getters the coveted gems. Balancing buffs and better-spent dice is tricky, and there's no perfect system. Which is something we love.
Meet Interesting "People"
Roll for Adventure could be described as having the lightest of light role-playing game theme. You get unique characters with a stereotypical ability. Trigger your ability to get an edge, and play to that advantage. Defeat the big bad to save the realm... a tried, tested, and working system. However, dependent on who you get you may do better or worse.. that's not to say anyone's useless! But some abilities are definitely more suited to certain situations.
The fighter being able to defeat enemies on a four or the warrior being able to allocate multiple dice with the odd mismatch definitely sit as natural winners. The healer isn't terrible either, being able to claw damage back from territories.. but a team full of damage givers means it'll be a rush to win before too much damage is done. We often choose our heroes from a distributed two over random selection. It gives us choice but doesn’t lumber us with a team of healers.
Pretty in a Tunic
Roll for Adventure looks like it's straight out of an old school roleplaying player guide. It's very stereotypical with its enemies and character visuals, but it works and we like it. If it went too quirky with its aesthetic I feel it'd have lost its charm. It feels quite nostalgic to an older role playing time. Like those before the theme was taken to the whacky and wild of other games. They keep it original, and I love that.
My only qualm is the villain. As much as he's annoying when he rocks up, the Master of Shadows can't actually be defeated. There's no fight and no real encounter. He's more of a trigger than a character, which I feel is a missed opportunity. Having a random boss encounter would spice this up a lot... but I acknowledge the one thing this game doesn't need is more variety. It's already a smorgasbord of choice!
The B Sides...
If the game wasn't spicy enough with variable difficulties, asymmetrical abilities and additional enemies. There's more. The B Side. The dreaded B Side... it's the same game, with more added to it and a more much dicier feel. You'll need to have your wits about you and your dice allocated tremendously wisely to win this version. Each realm has a new variant dice allocation pattern and new mechanics.
We're yet to crack the forest on the B Side, and the desert is vicious... but luckily, you don't have to take it on all at once. You can choose to have some specific areas flipped, and others on the regular. It adds a whole batch more replayability and makes the game even fresher than it already was each play!
Roll for Adventure is a lovely dice allocation game with so much variety to offer. So, so much. This game can be scaled in difficulty to be a family game for young children, or can be an all-out assault of punishment. The level of scalability is impressive and the replayability offered requires actual changes. It can be whole mechanics, without a lot of new learning.
We also loved the visuals and feel of the game. Because you reroll after every allocation, you govern your own dice within the results you get. Sure, you can chat it through and share ideas (and you definitely need to!) but you need to manage what you could get too. There's no scope for a leader, you win or lose as a team. I'd recommend Roll for Adventure for families primarily, but have to push for how difficulty and variable this game is. But it's never too heavy to handle.